Embracing the future with resilience: ASEAN young leaders to discuss key issues

Over the next two months, participants of the Temasek Foundation-NUS Leadership Enrichment and Regional Networking Young Asian Leaders Initiative (TF-NUS LEaRN YALI) will discuss issues such as mental health, employability prospects as well as other concerns that they will face in the 'New Normal'.

Organised by the NUS Global Relations Office and supported by Temasek Foundation, TF-NUS LEaRN YALI has been curated to help students gain a deeper understanding of ASEAN and build networks with their peers from the region.

Facilitated by Ms Kuik Shiao-yin, co-founder of The Thought Collective and former Nominated Member of Parliament, TF-NUS LEaRN YALI will see 120 undergraduates from four local autonomous universities and 14 ASEAN partner universities from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam engage in weekly interactive sessions to learn how to build holistic resilience, prepare for the future of work in Asia, and gain a better appreciation of ASEAN.

Addressing the opening ceremony on 6 Sep, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye highlighted the immense potential for the post-pandemic world.

 “In addition to industry-relevant knowledge, it is important that we understand the economic and social landscape of the ASEAN region around us, the nuances in cultures, and perspectives of our peers from the region. In our increasingly interconnected world, no country can truly flourish on its own. Building networks and developing an awareness and deeper understanding of our cross-cultural similarities and differences will serve to prepare us well for the future,” he said.

Attended by all participants and coordinators from participating ASEAN partner universities, the ceremony also saw Temasek Foundation International’s Chief Executive, Mr Benedict Cheong and Ms Kuik as speakers.

Building a shared future

The TF LEaRN programme, which has been running since 2008 with the strong support of Temasek Foundation, traditionally allowed students to study abroad at one of NUS’ partner universities in Asia. Seeing the need to adapt the TF LEaRN programme to current times, Mr Cheong said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives and the disruptions are here to stay. While we may reminisce about the pre-pandemic norms of work, study and travel, we now need to cast aside physical boundaries and embrace new ways of learning, thinking and engaging with a wider connected community. This will help us build a shared future in Asia and in the world.”

Recognising the multitude of backgrounds that the 120 participants come from, Ms Kuik urged participants to appreciate diversity, though there may be differences between universities and cultures. Rather than to avoid such issues, one can choose to learn from them, she said.

Participants started their first session after the opening ceremony, designed to deepen their self-awareness and aid in their development as a leader. Sharing her thoughts on what attracted her to the programme, Year 4 NUS Business School student Jadyn Teo said, “I have been inspired by the work of The Thought Collective and Shiao-yin for a long time. With my graduation coming up, I was wondering how my passions and strengths could make a difference in the real-world. This is a valuable space to explore the future of work and our aspirations together with peers from other countries.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Ms Avayu Samutsakulpiam, a graduating international relations student from Mahidol University. She felt that participating in TF-NUS LEaRN YALI would help her to expand her network, bring her out of her comfort zone and prepare her for the working world.

Over the next two months, participants of TF-NUS LEaRN YALI will have the chance to collaborate over group projects, organise panel sessions and interact with local and international speakers. The programme will culminate in a closing session of presentations to each other and guests from the region.


By the NUS Global Relations Office